Tunisia fires top security chiefs after attack

Tunisian police officers guard the entrance of the National Bardo Museum in Tunis March 19, 2015. (Reuters)

Tunisian Prime Minister Habib Essid fired six leading security officials on Monday, including the head of tourist security, after three gunmen attacked a renowned Tunis museum, killing 21 in the deadliest attack on tourists in Tunisia in 13 years, the government said Monday.

Government spokesman Mufdi Mseddi said the six also included an intelligence brigade chief, the Tunis district police chief, the traffic police commander, a Bardo security chief and a commander for the capital's Sidi Bachir district.

“Prime Minister Habib Essid visited the Bardo Museum yesterday...and took note of several security failures there,” Mssedi said.

President Beji Caid Essebsi had also criticized security failings around last week's attack. The gunmen opened fire on tourists getting out of buses and then entered the museum, apparently unimpeded, and fired on more tourists inside. Two gunmen were killed in a shootout with police.

The Interior Ministry has identified a man suspected of coordinating the attack and posted two photos of him on its Facebook page.

The Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) group claimed responsibility for attacking the museum - a trove of Roman mosaics and Tunisia's leading historical museum.

It was the worst attack in more than a decade in Tunisia, testing the North African country's young democracy four years after the revolt that overthrew autocrat Zine El-Abidine Ben Ali.

Tunisia has been largely spared the violent aftermath of the Arab Spring uprisings of 2011, with secular and Islamist parties overcoming their divisions to compromise, approve a new constitution and hold free elections.

Hardline Islamist groups also emerged after the revolt against Ben Ali swept away his one-party rule. Since then security forces have been caught up in a growing battle with extremists, some of whom are returning from training and fighting overseas.

Authorities say the two gunmen killed in the Bardo attacked had trained in jihadi camps in Libya. More than 3,000 Tunisians left to fight in Syria and Iraq, and hundreds have returned

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Last Update: Wednesday, 20 May 2020 KSA 13:55 - GMT 10:55
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